This book brings together a selection of official British and American publications that established the doctrine and plans used on D-Day. They cover a wide range of topics, from the details of a glider borne attack to how to retreat from a failed landing, and a fairly wide range of dates, from 1938 to 1945. As McNab says in the introduction, there was no ‘D-Day’ training manual at the time, but these are some of the documents that would have been used for that role.
It’s interesting to see how much of the 1938 doctrine was still applicable in 1944. The US Landing Operations Doctrine of 1938 includes sections on naval gunfire that closely resembles what happened on D-Day. There are comments on the need to construct temporary piers that pre-date the idea of the Mulberries (although meant for use in pre-existing harbours that lacked facilities rather than on the open beach). Questions of when and where to land come to conclusions very similar to those of 1944 (cross the sea at night, land at dawn if possible). In some cases technology had moved on – radar altered the nature of the air defence problem and the massive LSTs hadn’t been thought of in 1938, with their ability to beach themselves and unload tanks straight onto the beach, but otherwise they are sound.
This is a valuable collection of documents that demonstrate how much thought and preparation went into the D-Day landings (and indeed all of the other amphibious landings of the Second World War), and make you realise just how complex a venture they were.
1 – Intelligence, Planning and Preparation
2 – Naval and Air Support
3 – Airborne Assault
4 – Amphibious Assault
5 – Consolidation
Author: Various War Office and United States War Department
Editor: Chris McNab